Sli Eile, The Jesuit Centre for Young Adults, will take part in a major celebration on Mission Sunday, Oct 19 2008, in St Peter’s Church, Phibsboro at 6.30pm. The organisation will be showcasing their young people’s involvement in the Church’s overseas Mission and inviting young adults to join them in that work. Mission Sunday is an important annual event in the Catholics Church’s calendar.
Sli Eile provides opportunities for young adults to become involved in social justice work at home and abroad, linking up with other Jesuit works in Ireland such as the Peter McVerry Trust, and overseas,in ventures such as the Ballymun – Kingston (Jamaica) exchange programme. In the process, new and mutually affirming relationships between ordained religious and young people are being developed. According to Noelle Fitzpatrick, Local Volunteering programme co-ordinator of Sli Eile, “The half filled pews in parish churches across Ireland on Sunday morning is only part of the story. The other half is of an energetic and passionate young community finding deep resonance in the essence of the gospel message – to be men and women for others in these troubled times.”
Acknowledging that the public perception of the Mission work of the Church is most likely to be rooted in an image of ordained clergy or religious leaving Irish shores for the developing world, she says that this image is quite different to the reality of the overseas Mission of the church today. “Nowadays more and more young people are taking advantage of gap years to give expression to a growing social consciousness, and a desire to experience the wider world, in all its colour and complexity. Many are looking for opportunities to volunteer in the developing world. Of these, a significant number of young Irish are motivated by faith to seek opportunities to work with religious congregations – amongst them the Jesuits.”
In Ireland, the Jesuit Refugee Service, Jesuit overseas (Mission) office, Jesuit Centre for Young Adults, Sli Eile work together routinely under the banner of ‘a faith that does justice’, in what is affectionately called ‘lay-jay collaboration’. They try to walk the talk of the Gospel message and they will share some of that journey at the celebrations in St Peter’s Church this Sunday.
The Jesuit Order was founded in the 16th century has go on to become the largest congregation of Catholic priests globally. A key part of the Jesuit vision today is ‘a faith that does justice’ and there has been a long tradition of emphasis on working for social justice with people on the margins all over the world. Collaboration between the Jesuit order and lay people in the wider mission of the Church at home and abroad is also a pivotal part of the Jesuit mission.